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Erdogan: Turkey to turn elsewhere if US will not sell F-35s

Turkish president says the Russian S-400 missile defence system will be operational by 2020.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey will turn elsewhere for fighter jets if the United States does not sell it the F-35 aircraft, adding that Ankara planned to start using the Russian S-400 missile defence system in April 2020.

The US said last week it was removing NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 programme, as long threatened, after Ankara purchased and received Russian S-400 missile defence systems that Washington sees as a threat.

The US has also threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, although Ankara has dismissed the warnings.

Speaking publicly about strained ties with the US for the first time in 11 days, Erdogan said on Friday that a decision by Washington to cut Ankara from the F-35 programme would not deter it from meeting its needs.

“Are you not giving us the F-35s? OK, then excuse us but we will once again have to take measures on that matter as well and we will turn elsewhere,” Erdogan told a gathering of his Justice and Development Party in the capital, Ankara.

The president said he had raised the issue with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, during their meeting at the G20 summit in Japan last month.

Erdogan said he hoped US officials would be “reasonable” on the question of sanctions, adding that Turkey may also reconsider its purchase of Boeing aircraft from the US.READ MORE

Turkey can’t have both American F-35s and Russia’s S-400s: US

“Even if we’re not getting F-35s, we are buying 100 advanced Boeing aircraft, the agreement is signed … At the moment, one of the Boeing planes has arrived and we are making the payments, we are good customers,” he said.

“But, if things continue like this, we will have to reconsider this.”

Referring to the S-400, Erdogan said: “In the coming spring, God willing in April 2020, we will be able to start using this system.”

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